Can Bath Time Really Help My Baby Sleep Better?
Bedtime can be a challenge. As parents, we often find ourselves searching for the perfect bedtime routine that not only helps our children wind down but also promotes a restful night's sleep. Here's a trick you might not have fully tapped into yet: incorporating bath time into your baby’s sleep routine. For some babies, bath time not only promotes relaxation, but it can cue them to understand that bedtime is approaching and prepare their bodies for a restful night’s sleep.
How can bath time help with sleep?
Just like adults, children thrive on routine. Research has shown that a consistent bedtime routine can support improving sleep. One key aspect of a bedtime routine is to include a hygiene component such as bath time. Bath time provides an opportunity for both connection and to transition from the hustle and bustle of the day to a calm and peaceful environment. Read more here on the benefits of a routine to support sleep.
The warmth of the water can relax your baby – think about it, you probably wind down after a long day by taking a shower or a bath, so why wouldn’t it work for babies too?! In fact, there is a science behind why a warm bath helps us sleep: When we relax in warm water, our blood moves up to the top layer of our skin. After we finish our bath/ shower, our blood vessels stay open, and this causes our body temperature to cool down. This cooling down actually helps get our bodies ready for sleep by signalling it’s time to prepare for sleep. So, it's true—taking a bath can help babies (and adults) sleep better!
Here are some tips to make bath time a success:
- Choose a consistent time for bath time, ideally about an hour before bedtime. This gives your child's body time to cool down before they sleep.
- Bath time can be a wonderful opportunity for you to connect with your child. Engage in simple conversations, sing songs, or read bath-friendly books to create a calming environment. These activities not only strengthen the parent-child bond, but they can also help create positive associations with bedtime.
- Use gentle, child-friendly bath products that are free of harsh chemicals and irritants.
- Ensure the water temperature is warm, but not too hot, to prevent any burns.
- Research has shown that as little as 10 minutes is all we need for a bath to make a supportive for sleep.
- Limit bath time to around 15 – 20 minutes to avoid overstimulation and prolonging the bedtime routine.
- Always supervise your child and stay within arm's reach.
- The transition from warm to cold is unpleasant for everyone – including babies. To prevent them from crying or getting too cold after you lift them from the bath, use The Fuzzy Sprout’s parent-worn baby towels that make wrapping a baby after bath time quick & easy (plus, they keep parents dry!)
- Bonus tip: Warm the towel up in the dryer before the bath so they get into a warm towel
What could my bedtime look like for my baby?
- Sleep sack / swaddle
- Sound machine on
- Lights out
What could my bedtime look like for my toddler?
- Play – get sillies out
- Body squeezes as you dry them off
- Brush teeth
- Sleep sack
- Sound machine on
- Lights out
Should bath time always be before bedtime?
The simple answer is no. Do what works best for you and your baby. Bath time may help relax some babies, but for others, it may over stimulate them so giving them a bath right before bed isn’t the best start to a calming bedtime routine.
Bath time can also be a great awake activity if you need to find ways to entertain your child. Fill up a bathtub with toys and your baby will surely have a great time splashing in the water.
Remember, baths are helpful for sleep time, but they can be a great tool for parents at any time of day. Don’t feel constricted to only giving baths to your baby at night!
Does your baby hate baths?
Often times babies may go through a phase of hating bath time. If you are in it right now, don’t worry, this often passes. If you are looking for ways to make bath time more enjoyable, check out this blog post for helpful tips.
Need more help with your little one’s sleep?
There often isn’t a magic fix when it comes to dramatically getting your baby to sleep better - If you are struggling with your baby’s sleep and need tips or advice, contact Sleep Easy Consulting or book a 30 minute call to discuss your sleep struggles!